Welcome to a fresh new week of episode recaps! After what felt like a long weekend, I’m excited to be picking back up with Episode 4 of the new season of She-Ra! The first three episodes thus far have been pretty damn good so I’m excited to see what’s next.
When we left off, She-Ra and Bow had liberated the village of Elberon from Horde rule, but this turned out to all be part of Catra and Hordak’s plan to insert a spy into the Rebellion: the shape-shifter Double Trouble disguised as a young, Elboranian girl named Flutterina. This is becoming a recurring theme for this season where the Rebellion is finishing off their battles thinking they’ve won, but the Horde has gone away with something in their back pocket making you think that they’re the ones who’ve actually come out on top.
If you need more than that, feel free to read the Episode 3 recap to catch up before diving into this because right now we’ve got a show to watch.
Season 4, Episode 3: Pulse
The Horde has been one step ahead of the Rebellion basically since Glimmer ascended to the throne. Every time she sends her team out, the Horde is catching the Rebellion with surprise attacks and ambushes that are starting to wear down the rebels. Obviously, we know that this is because the Horde has an inside-man (inside-person, inside-them) in “Flutterina”, but this is still unknown to all the good guys.
We finally get our first extended meeting with Shadow Weaver this season who’s still considered a prisoner in Bright Moon. She catches Glimmer letting off some steam in the courtyard by unleashing some magic and Shadow Weaver calls the display, “impressive.” She goes on to say that Glimmer’s surge in power is startling since connecting fully with the Moon Stone upon her coronation, and that she has the potential to become even more powerful than either of her parents. Of course, when Shadow Weaver says this, her tone and inflection makes it all feel sinister and like some kind of backroom mob dealing.
Which means it is a good time to talk about the voice acting in this series. In Mick Foley’s first book, “Have A Nice Day”, he has a line to the effect of “wrestling fans don’t care about the moves, they care about the people who do them.” That always made a ton of sense to me and, as someone who did spend a decent amount of their life in and around the wrestling business, something I tried to apply to my own performances. If you think about why the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a home run while the DCEU has been, um, not quite that, a lot of it comes back to casting. Marvel scored with almost every single one of their big casting hires while DC has had some hits and a lot of misses. From the very beginning of this reboot, the She-Ra cast was dynamite. And it’s not just the leads either. Aimee Carrero (She-Ra/Adora), AJ Michalka (Catra), Karen Fukuhara (Glimmer) and Marcus Scribner (Bow) as the leads have been perfect, sure, but the supporting roles featuring Lauren Ash (Scorpia), Christine Woods (Entrapta) and, of course, Lorraine Toussaint (Shadow Weaver) have this wonderful synergy of fully-formed, developed and unique traits that really take the entire show as a whole to the next level.
Yes, the writing and plotlines have been good, but if you don’t have the people to execute the vision then it’s all for naught. She-Ra has the perfect people in the perfect places that can do the moves, sure, but because it’s them doing the moves, I am so much more invested as a viewer.
OK, back to TV.
She-Ra, Bow and Swiftwind head out on a small mission with Netossa and Spinnerella to see if they can track down the Horde’s new weapon. Once again, it’s an ambush and the entire crew gets blasted by a surveillance bot with Bow taking the brunt of the force. It looks pretty grim for a moment, but She-Ra has harnessed her ability to heal through the runestone in the center of her sword which – while not bringing Bow back to 100% – does keep him alive. Glimmer is once again beside herself that the Horde is ahead of them and one of the palace guards suggests that it’s possible the Horde has devised a way to track She-Ra. This would explain how they always know where she is. Adora grabs the guard who floated this idea and heads back out determined to take care of this and we see the shutter-eyes again. The General is actually Double Trouble finding another way to cover their tracks.
Glimmer has finally had enough of Catra beating them to the punch on literally everything so she finally gives in and enlists the assistance of Shadow Weaver which…look: we all know this is probably going to end up being an egregious error in judgment once we have hindsight, but we’re in the middle of a war right now and one side has a distinct and clear advantage. Something needs to be done to change the tide and as the old saying goes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Shadow Weaver shows Glimmer how to concoct a location spell which is able to show them where the Horde’s hidden outpost is stationed. She-Ra – who just headed out on a revenge trip – is going to the wrong place, but Shadow Weaver suggests this would be a perfect time for Glimmer to set an attack on the Horde’s stash while they’re distracted by the Princess of Power. She’s basically suggesting that Glimmer use one of her best friends as bait. Hooooo boy, this cannot possibly end well.
Sure enough, She-Ra is back out there with Netossa and Spinnerella and they are pretty much cooked from the get. Glimmer, armed with the knowledge of Catra’s secret outpost, storms it solo taking out jabroni Horde guards and destroying this gaggle of Pulse Bots until she’s left alone with just Catra to beat. Catra, upon seeing Glimmer enter, assumed this was just Double Trouble in disguise, but realized pretty quickly that this was the real McCoy Glimmer and we get what I believe to be the first one-on-one confrontation between the two. Glimmer is embracing her newly-amplified powers, but her sparkle bursts are taking down the whole cave due to her jostling with Catra.
With a quick flip of a switch, Catra unveils the new weapon that the Rebellion has been looking for over the entirety of this episode: an even bigger Pulse Bot that is powerful enough to vaporize half of the Whispering Woods. Glimmer has to make a choice: continue to chase Catra or somehow stop the bot. In what would be described in baseball as a fortuitous bounce, a piece of scaffolding crashes from above and traps Catra. Glimmer no longer has to choose so she leaves Catra for dead as the outpost collapses around itself and teleports herself and the Pulse Bot high into the sky of Etheria so it can explode without causing any harm.
As she teleports herself back, she comes to the rescue of She-Ra, Spinnerella and Netossa who are only still alive because Netossa is protecting them in one of her…nets. Duh. Glimmer lays waste to the collection of Pulse Bots surrounding them and everyone can breathe a momentary sigh of relief. Glimmer is way too excited for someone who almost sacrificed her friends for a brief moment of victory.
Catra didn’t die, obviously. In the aftermath of Glimmer teleporting out of the outpost, Double Trouble arrived saying that they heard the queen took off unexpectedly so they came to check on the operation.
As the episode wraps up, Adora is mad about being used as bait, but Glimmer is too happy with herself and being back in the action to really pay that any mind. Catra is returned to the Fright Zone where, after discussion with Double Trouble, she thinks Glimmer showing up alone to a fight may show some cracks in the Best Friend Squad that would be perfect to exploit.
There is an awful lot to unpack in this episode. First off: Glimmer.
This was a huge coming out party for the queen who has – to this point – been more of a sidekick in battle than a main eventer. Making the decision to let Adora continue her failed mission so she could single-handedly take out the Horde’s outpost was one thing, but then going toe-to-toe with Catra and unleashing a massive array of now significantly-more-powerful sparkle bursts has moved her up the food chain undoubtedly. Yes, she’s the queen now, but she is far from the same type of queen her mother was. Whereas Angella always erred on the side of caution and was maybe too conservative in strategy and attack for fear of putting her people at risk, Glimmer knowingly and willfully hung her best friend out to dry because it gave them the best chance to catch the Horde asleep at the wheel for the first time in a long time. That is pretty ballsy. It has to affect her relationship with Adora going forward, there’s just no way around it, but – in the moment – it was a decision that paid off.
After observing that we hadn’t seen much of Shadow Weaver thus far after the last episode, she certainly wielded some significant influence today! Glimmer sought her help out of frustration, but one can only think that Shadow Weaver will eventually seek to use Glimmer’s talents for her own gain. It certainly doesn’t appear that she’s trying to pay a penance for her sins while in the Horde.
To this point, I’m really enjoying Double Trouble. They’re not overused or pushed too much, it feels like just the right amount of screen time to keep them relevant, but not forced into the story. There was also a very telling moment at the end where Catra thanks them for saving her and Double Trouble responds that they live to serve…for a price. Catra, who for a moment looked as if she was thinking she had a budding friendship, scrunches her face with disappointment before handing over a sack of coins. Double Trouble is exactly like a lot of us: this is just a job, go in, put in your time and get paid. I feel that.
This episode felt like the beginning of Act 2 for this season. The first three chapters laid a lot of groundwork and today we began seeing the stories bloom from that. They fit so much into a singular 22 minute episode that you would think they hot-shotted some things or pushed them along too quickly, but everything felt right and that it all had purpose. This was an absolutely dynamite episode.
Until next time.